Controversy Continues Over Henry County High School Graduation Policy

Henry County, AL - A high school senior's parents are frustrated after they are told he will not be allowed to participate in the graduation ceremony.

Aaron Sanders' parents were notified three weeks ago their son would not be allowed to graduate from Headland High School on Tuesday.

Sanders passed all of his courses but did not pass the reading portion of the graduation exam.

His parents say the school didn't notify them about his performance until last week.

“It’s frustrating after a child has gone to school for 13 years and never failed a grade, perfect attendance for most of those years and just because he failed one part of the graduation exam, which is going away because it’s a failure by the state of Alabama, and he’s not allowed to walk,” said Amy Sanders, Aaron’s mother.

The Henry County School board policy requires students to pass the reading, math and one of the other three sections to earn a credit-based diploma and participate in graduation.

Henry County Interim Superintendent, Lesa Knowles said they're following that policy.

“It’s been in place. It stands. There's been no change in it. The board just stood by the policy. No vote taken. No decision changed. They just stood by the policy,” said Knowles.

Students do have the option to come back and retake the graduation exam. If they pass, they are allowed to take part in the next years' graduation ceremony.


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  • by Outsider Location: Headland on May 25, 2012 at 09:18 PM
    My children were all on honor roll. No certificate of award, no call from teacher, no note from school was rec'd. Their friends rec'd notes. The special parents (Elite) got calls. One of our children was physically attacked last year and nothing happened to the student causing harm and bruises on our child. The other student was "elite" in Headland. I've only known the Aaron family briefly while frequenting the 3 pigs. They are good people. They are among whose who but they are of the decent kind. There is frequent failure of communication in Henry County. We NEVER could get Coe to call us, nor take calls and we aren't alone. Lesa isn't different. We've decided to vote for TERRY SCOTT to have someone different office. I applaud MENDHEIM for injunction and BRICE for stating its NOT the State policy its county. Henry BOE misquoted when stating it was state policy. We will now homeschool until policies change. They flip a coin toss on what to enforce in these schools!
  • by Been There Location: Dothan on May 23, 2012 at 11:34 AM
    My daughter had a hard time passing the Graduation Exam Social Studies part at Northview. As she was getting a sports scholorship we needed to do something. She took the last test for that year in January but would not know the results until March. Their policy no pass no walk. My daughter took GED classes at night to prepare to take the GED to get her scholorship for 2 months on top of school everyday and softball being at the height of its season. Got the news she passed in March. I was so PROUD of her for doing what she did to make lemanade out of life's lemons. While she was happy she got to walk it was bittersweet. The policy is not bad the test is bad. But if you have a policy stick to it for EVERYONE.
    • reply
      by billi on May 24, 2012 at 10:49 PM in reply to Been There
      been there - i wish they had a like button -- good luck to you're daughter .
  • by Trisha Location: Chipley on May 23, 2012 at 03:31 AM
    I was in nursing class and got really sick and missed some weeks of school. I passed the test. But had to go back and go to school 2 weeks for what I missed for it to be legal to practice nursing. Let him graduate with his class, but return later and take the test over. Stop being hung up on formality. Some of the other students who wont walk probably failed in other areas besides one thing.
  • by Former teacher on May 22, 2012 at 04:14 PM
    Students shouldn't be treated differently. Isn't fair to the others who didn't pass and who won't walk. Time for parents to teach their kids to be responsible for their actions or lack thereof.
    • reply
      by Renee on May 25, 2012 at 12:58 PM in reply to Former teacher
      Amen to that!!!! Everyone should have to live by the same rules if you want to achieve the same goal! It also isn't fair to the ones that DID have to pass their exams to walk!
  • by vickie Location: samson on May 22, 2012 at 03:22 PM
    my son david troublefield was not going to get to walk with his class at samson high school i went before the school board and ask for an amendment which did get passed after 30 days this was also due to the graud exams this rule is unfair to the students and thier family my advice is to walk anyway if you cannot get a change and rember the school board when you vote they should have the students best intreast at heart thanks vickie troublefield
  • by Amanda Location: Columbia on May 22, 2012 at 01:50 PM
    The ASHGE IS A FAILURE! Even the state has acknowledge such a point. The board FAILED to address the issue and sending a letter dated October of 2011 and then date the envelope May 2012 stinks and shows a lack of competence on the part of the school board. A waste of money, time, and resources has been thrown at this test with nothing to show for it but a big F.
    • reply
      by Renee on May 24, 2012 at 08:25 PM in reply to Amanda
      It doesn't matter that the test is a failure! That is not the isssue at hand regarding this matter. Aaron Sanders FAILED the test, which according to the RULES, has to be passed, in order to walk at the Graduations Ceremony. What some people do not seem to understand is that the graduation ceremony is not a kindergarten play that everyone gets to participate in. It is a ceremony that celebrates an accomplishment. When a school has an awards banquet, all students do not get to participate. Only the students who achieved an award gets to walk up and shake hands with whomever is handing out those awards. If you did not achieve an award, you are only a spectator!!!!! Aaron Sanders did NOT qualify for the graduation ceremony, therefore, he should not have been able to participate in it!!!!!
  • by Marty Bowden Location: Samson on May 22, 2012 at 08:23 AM
    This man should be allowed to walk... Especially after a letter was supposed to have been sent to his parents October 2011 and they are just now sending it to his parents. That would not hapen in my book. It is the school's responsibility to make sure the parents' know what their child has and has not passed. At Samson High School, everytime you take the graduation exam, the school sends home a letter that HAS to be signed by the parents and brought back to the school guidance counselor within the week. If it is not brought back, the parents are called and the child does get punishment until it is brought back. That is the way it should be for every school.
    • reply
      by Mandy on May 24, 2012 at 08:31 PM in reply to Marty Bowden
      I believe the letter sent to the Sanders was a copy of a letter that was probably given to Aaron when he was called to the auditorium after failing the test. From my understanding, if you fail the test, you are called to the auditorium and given a letter to take home to your parents. Obviously, Aaron did not show Mommy and Daddy his letter. Shame, shame, shame on him! Yes, I do agree that the school should notify parents more about what is going on. However, Aaron is a big boy. When he gets out in the big, big real world, he will have to be more responsible. Mommy and Daddy will not always be able to feed the football team food and money so Aaron can get whatever he wants. Nor will they be able to get a judge to just overrule whatever they don't agree with. He will have to make it alone!
      • reply
        by Anonymous on May 25, 2012 at 02:00 PM in reply to Mandy
        Mandy, Judging by your comment, I am pretty sure you have never had anyone fight for you. Just because you were not does not mean other parents shouldn't. If a parent does not fight for their son then who will? You are a very sad and angry person to say what you did.
  • by Denise Location: Headland on May 22, 2012 at 07:49 AM
    If you don't pass the exams you shouldnt be allowed to graduate. I hope the board of education stands firm.
  • by CONCERNED INDIVIDUAL Location: ALL OVER ALABAMA on May 22, 2012 at 07:03 AM
    Well the school is following the rules and nothing is wrong with that. However schools should afford a failing student(s)to retake the exam before its graduation. I believe that it would be fair for any young students to have this opportunity, don't we all need a second chance? God created the "Commaments" Are we all sticking to it? I am just saying.
    • reply
      by Renee on May 25, 2012 at 12:56 PM in reply to CONCERNED INDIVIDUAL
      The students have SEVERAL chances to take these exams! I believe they have 3 chances just in their senior year. How many chances should they get!? And, the tests have been lowered to an 8th grade level now. If you are a senior in high school and cannot pass an exam that is on the 8th grade level, after 6 times, what is left to do? Sounds like someone has not been trying at all. Also sounds like grades have been "handed out" to certain students. Especially if that student has a 3.2 GPA and still cannot pass a grad exam.......
  • by Donald Location: Enterprise on May 22, 2012 at 06:35 AM
    They should let him walk with his class but not let him graduate without passing that test.
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